LONDON ALERT! – Police ordered to shoot to kill

US troops humiliate a prisoner in Iraq
US troops humiliate a prisoner in Iraq

Yesterday, London was living off its nerves after reports of four explosions, three at underground stations and one on a bus.

Police were given orders to shoot to kill to prevent terrorists carrying out explosions.

Police pointed their guns at people outside Downing Street, and made one man, believed to be a tourist, reveal what was under his shirt before leading him away.

Emergency services rushed to incidents at Warren Street, Oval and Shepherds Bush Underground stations.

The driver of a Number 26 bus in Hackney Road, Bethnal Green reported he heard an explosion at the back of the bus on the top deck and it was evacuated.

There were reports that the upper deck bus windows were blown out but people working in first floor offices opposite said all the bus windows were intact, as did a reporter in a helicopter.

Passengers reported there had been an explosion and they were showered with white powder. Bomb squad experts were said to be investigating a suspect device.

Three London Underground lines were closed down while police carried out investigations into what Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair described as ‘serious incidents’. He said there was just one casualty, but not a fatality.

The incidents began at 12.38pm at Oval station. Police cordoned off every road going past the station.

A passenger who was on the train at the Oval said she saw three men struggling with another man who had a rucksack on his back, who escaped and ran away.

Another eyewitness at the Oval said; ‘Someone ran onto the train, dumped a bag and then ran off again.’

A witness outside the station said a man ran past him saying ‘what’s the matter with all these people?’

At 12.45pm ambulance services were called to Warren Street station.

One eyewitness said his train was drawing into the station at Warren Street when passengers burst into his carriage. He said another passenger told him he had seen a rucksack a young man was carrying blow open.

The Fire Service said smoke was later seen coming from Warren Street Tube station.

A man described as black, 6´2´´, wearing a blue top with wires protruding from the top was seen running away from the station.

Armed police were sent to nearby University College Hospital where staff were told in an internal memo to look out for a man of that description.

Police marksmen arrived in large numbers and searched the hospital into the evening.

At 1.13pm the Hammersmith and City line station at Shepherd’s Bush was evacuated and the area sealed off.

Police in chemical protection suits screened all the stations but said there was no trace of any chemicals.

Prime Minister Blair postponed a joint press conference with visiting Australian Prime Minister John Howard to attend an emergency COBRA meeting at Downing Street, with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw Home Secretary Charles clarke and Police Commissioner Ian Blair attending.

At 3.35pm Blair and Australian prime minister Howard held their postponed press conference.

Blair called on the public to keep calm and advised reporters to contact the ambulance fire and police services for further ‘operational information’ on the incidents.

Blair was asked ‘do you feel any responsibility for us being put on the front line in the war against terror?’

He did not answer the question.

He was pressed to answer ‘do you feel in a sense your policies may have put people in this position?’

Blair replied: ‘People who are responsible for doing these things, are the people who do them.’

Blair continued to tell Londoners that, although he did not want to minimise the incidents, people should go about their normal business.

GM demands massive healthcare cuts

General Motors (GM) is currently in talks with US trade unions, after demanding huge cuts in employee healthcare costs.

Losses of more than $1bn at GM’s North American unit have resulted in overall global net losses of $286m (£164.4m) for the three months to June.

This is down from worldwide profits of $1.38bn during the same time in 2004.

North American losses of $1.19bn wiped out profits in other countries as GM’s global market share grew.

GM said its automotive operations worldwide lost $948m in the second quarter.

The company’s decision to offer an ‘Employee Discount for Everyone’ in an effort to boost sales could have taken its toll in its American markets.

The move saw a bumper 41 per cent surge in sales to 558,092 vehicles in June, but the aggressive sales drive hit profit margins.

A first quarter $1.1 billion loss has already seen GM bonds downgraded to junk status by credit ratings agency Standard and Poors.

A junk status rating suggests that a company is more likely to default on its debt.

GM chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner admitted the group’s US performance had been ‘disappointing’ and work needed to be done to drive down manufacturing and staff costs.

Last month the group said it would be sacking 25,000 US workers, in addition to plans to cut 12,000 workers in Europe, and shut down parts and assembly plants in an effort to save $2.5bn (£1.4bn) a year.